Sign The Guestbook
View The Guestbook
Archived Guestbook
Submit An Article
Staff List
Privacy Policy


Weekly Features
Letter from New York
Mathew Tombers is Managing Director of Intermat, Inc., ( a television company which executive produces programs and consults with industry companies on a variety of issues. Intermat, Inc. is currently involved in approximately thirty hours of television in various stages for a variety of networks. He is one of the Executive Producers of OFF TO WAR, a ten hour series for Discovery Times and for a one hour on international adoptions for Discovery Health. He has consulted a variety of companies, including Ted Turner Documentaries, WETA, Betelgeuse Productions, and Creation Films, Lou Reda Productions as well as many others.

January 19, 2006

On the 19th I had an hour before I had to be at my first meeting. I went into the Acela Club, poured a cup of coffee, and started watching CNN while organizing my day.

President Bush was making an appearance. I had barely noted he was on the air when CNN broke away to announce a new audio tape had been released by Osama Bin Laden. There were the usual disclaimers: authenticity not yet verified; no knowledge of when or where it was recorded. However, the possibility of a tape from Osama Bin Laden rushed George off stage.

It promised new attacks on America, informing us the reason we had not experienced another 9/11 was not that we had enhanced our security [if you believe some sources our security is being organized by Keystone Cops] but that these things take time to get organized. Still, somewhere in the vitriol were some words of truce, a chance to talk about securing Afghanistan and Iraq, to move away from the bloodshed.

This last week I viewed a rough cut of an upcoming HBO documentary produced by my friends Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill. The working title is BAGHDAD ER.

It chronicles 12 weeks Matt and Jon spent at the major trauma center in Baghdad. This is the place the wounded are medi-vaced by Blackhawk helicopters in the extraordinary efforts being made to save lives in this theatre of war.

The program is unbearably good. These two men have done an extraordinary job of capturing the drama and trauma of Iraq. >From sweeping through the night to the rush to the trauma center, this is the closest I want to get to the experience of war.

It was hard for me to watch. I found myself squirming in my seat, wanting to do anything rather than watch.

In watching the caregivers, I was proud of them, proud to be from the same country. With extraordinary professionalism they endured twelve hour days, seven days a week, constantly seeing blood, pain, death and the grief of soldiers who survive and find out someone else from their unit did not.

There is a glimpse of a man who has lost both his arms; staring into a future he cannot imagine. Two soldiers, survivors, after being tended and stabilized, reached out and held each as they cried for their comrade who had not survived the IED that had destroyed their vehicle.

IED, Improvised Explosive Devices, the demon device of this war does enormous damage both to the vehicles and to the bodies of our soldiers.

Whether or not you agree with this war, these wonderful individuals are our soldiers and they are there because our government has determined they should be there. In being there they are enduring great risk and sometimes find only pain for good intentions. A soldier was shot while handing out candy to Iraqi children. With amazing good humor, when asked if he had shot the man who had shot him, he laughed and said through the pain: No, Sir, I was too busy on the ground screaming and crying.

With daring and almost reckless bravado Black Hawks swoop through the unfriendly skies to scoop up the wounded, American and Iraqi, and fly them back while desperately working to prevent their deaths, to keep them breathing, to keep them from bleeding to death, to preserve them.

So today when I heard Osama might be holding out an olive branch, I found myself wondering if our government would engage in conversation. I doubt it. We will one day have to talk, just as we eventually had to speak with the North Vietnamese, because without talking there will be no peace.

Watching BAGHDAD ER, I hoped for peace sooner than later. I don’t want in another year to see another documentary about saving our soldiers, or think about how wonderful the doctors were in patching torn bodies. I would like to see a time when doctors were needed for other things than countering the trauma of IED’s and bullets.